The best way to see Bruges, in Belgium, is to take a boat trip or carriage ride
Are you traveling to Bruges in Belgium? The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to Bruges city center. The historic centre of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
At the end of a busy day, I go to the city parks to relax and watch people.
Hoping to escape the crowds and tourists? The wind mills of Bruges and the Beguinage are great places for peace and quiet.
When you visit Bruges, get your picture taken at Rozenhoedkaai.
Bruges and food
Everyone knows that Bruges is famous for its waffles, but when I am hungry for Bruges cuisine, I head to Cafedraal.
One of my favorite places to dine in Bruges is Restaurant Den Dyver, order anything paired with beer menu.
When visiting Bruges , this is the place for Belgium chocolates, fine lace and tapestries.
If you are traveling without a lot of money, go to the French fries stalls in front of the Belfry; the waffles are cheap, too.
For a huge splurge, I go to De Karmeliet or Patrick Devos. While the Market Square is the spot for late night dining.
The entire town of Bruges is a photo opportunity. Here is Nancy D. Brown with the Belfry in the background.
Photo opportunities in Bruges are as easy as standing by the canals with swans swimming in the background, but they also include Rozenhoedkaai or on top of the Belfry.
The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of the Belfry or Concertgebouw.
The most random thing about Bruges is the Holy Blood Procession. While the name of the annual event is not catchy, the procession, held in May is amazing to watch. Check out my YouTube video of the Holy Blood Procession for parade highlights.
In Bruges, an active day outdoors involves walking or hiking or biking.
My favorite walking route is the route along the canal to Damme.
Bruges best museum is De Groeningemuseum.
For a night of dancing, go to another city!
To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read Exit.
In the spring you should visit the Beguinage, the inner square is filled with flowers.
In the summer you should walk and bicycle in and around Bruges.
In the winter you should go to the ice skating rink on the market square and the Christmas market.
The Madonna is one of the masterpieces of the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium
A hidden gem in Bruges is Gouden Handrei, the unknown canal.
For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Dagelijks Brood.
When I crave Dutch cuisine, I turn to “Patat met majonaise” (French Fries with mayo) , “broodje kroket” with mustard (meat-croquette); or Indonesian Rijsttafel! The staple Dutch meal is meat, potato and vegetable, in winter combined to a “stamppot,” mixture of mashed potatoes, vegetable with meats on the side.
To escape work I go to Vondelpark in summer; or the coast for a walk in the dunes.
For complete quiet, I can hide away at the Begijnhof.
If you come to Amsterdam, get your picture taken on a Skinny Bridge with canal houses in the background.
If you have to order one thing off the menu at Restaurant Tempo Doeloe, get the rijsttafel.
Amsterdam is my one stop shop for a good dose of culture!
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to a FEBO or a brown café. They may not the best, but for sure are inexpensive!
At FEBO snack bars, after inserting some change, you can get your treat right out of the wall. Brown cafés and pubs normally serve up great sampling plates with bitterballen (mini meat-croquettes), or cubed Dutch cheese and liverwurst served with a strong mustard. All are best complimented with a pint of Dutch beer.
For a huge splurge, I go to La Rive at the Amstel Hotel for classic French or Restaurant Vinkeles at the Dylan Hotel.
When you visit Amsterdam, visit the Anne Frank statue and Anne Frank Museum
Photo ops in Amsterdam include; Skinny Bridge, Westerkerk (Westerchurch)
- Homo Monument
- Anne Frank Statue
- Floating Flower Market
- Museum Square with Rijksmuseum in the background
- Near or in a boat or canal bike on a gracht (canal)
- On any bridge over a canal
- Dam Square
The best vantage points are taken by climbing the Westerchurch tower or visit the Okura Hotel’s Ciel Bleu, their Michelin star French restaurant on the top floor.
The most random thing in Amsterdam is the Grachten Festival. The Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) is an annual music festival based on classical music performances. Each performance is set amongst venues characterised by extraordinary or monumental architecture boasting culturally historical value. Inspired by the annual theme, renowned soloists and ensembles quite often compose concert programs especially for the festival. However, the festival also features advance performances and foretastes of programs that will be performed at venues elsewhere in the Netherlands later in the season.
An active day in Amsterdam involves cycling
In Amsterdam, an active day outdoors involves walking and cycling.
My favorite walking route is strolling through the Jordaan district.
Some of Amsterdam’ s best museums are the Rijksmuseum, van Gogh museum, Amsterdam Historical Museum, Jewish Historical Museum and Hermitage.
There are so many entertainment options for a night of dancing in Amsterdam. Depending on your age group try:
Jimmy Woo Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 18 1017 RC Amsterdam
Jimmy Woo is a hot club where ancient Hong-Kong mixes with modern design. Black is the dominant color here, with a large lounge area with black leather sofa’s and a black bar, and of course the opium table isn’t missing. The dance floor is downstairs, with impressive 12,000 light bulbs ceiling. Famous for its selective door policy; either you’re on the guest list, or you join the endless queue.
Rozengracht 133 1016 LV A Rozengracht 133
One of the most trendy hot spots in Amsterdam is Club Roses. An award winning interior totally in style with today’s developments in architecture completes the success of the club. Roses is the place to be with a large variety of music styles on the different days of the week. The biggest names in the DJ world have worked the decks at Roses and many more will follow.
Most restaurants close their kitchen at 11p. There are some late night restaurants which serve dinner until 12:30a. Selection:
Hermitage Amsterdam Museum
Keizersgracht 594 1017 EN Amsterda
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 203 1017 RB Amsterdam
Hard Rock Café Amsterdam Max Euweplein 57-61 1017 MA AMSTERDAM 020-5237625 Opened on Friday and Saturday untill 00.30h for dinner. Rest of the week until 23.30h.
To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends use the on-line what’s on wizard and/or Time Out Amsterdam.
In the spring you should attend Queens Day (nationwide): one big party in Amsterdam as well on April 30 and the April Flower Parade.
In the summer you should attend Canal Parade – Gay Pride, August 7, 2010
Highlight of Amsterdam Gay Pride (1/8 – 8/8) is the Canal Parade with hundred thousands of participants and visitors. The boat parade starts at 2 PM at the end of the Prinsengracht, turns left onto the Amstel and continues towards Oosterdok, passing City Hall and the Music theatre (Stopera).
The Canal Festival also puts an emphasis on giving young musicians an ideal opportunity to showcase their talents, with performances in lively busy public locations.
The event also includes a Children’s Canal Festival, featuring productions specially intended for children of all ages, from babies and infants up to teenagers.
Many of the concerts are accessible free of charge or at a low entrance fee.
In the fall you should visit: Museumnacht, the First Saturday in November.
One night a year 42 museums in Amsterdam open their doors from 7 pm to 2 am and organize special events: workshops, concerts, special tours, performances, with tasty food & drinks. This is your chance to see Amsterdam’s museums in a completely new light – after dark!
In the winter you should go to the ice skating rinks in the city.
Dutch holiday traditions and events from late November into early January (e.g. special exhibits and museums; arrival of Sinterklaas – St. Nicolas)
A hidden gem in Amsterdam is The Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum Hendrikje)
Museum Our Lord in the Attic
Apple tart and espresso at Cafe Papeneiland, Amsterdam
For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to Le Pain Quotidien, Cornelis Troostplein 4,1072 JK Amsterdam
Cafe Americain (brunch)Leidsekade 97, Amsterdam
Wintertuin (bfast, brunch)
Hotel Krasnapolsky Dam 9, Amsterdam
Just outside of Amsterdam you can visit the Open Air museum The Zaansche Schans, have lunch at the pancake restaurant.
Also visit the Zuiderzee museum in Enkhuizen, a wonderful Open Air museum in a traditional fishing village on the Ijsselmeer. One hour by train from Amsterdam.
The best way to see Amsterdam is to walk and take a canal boat tour, especially by night.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss:
Jewish Historical Museum – The Children’s Museum has matzo that raps and the brick wall that talks!
What are your favorite things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands?
Thanks to Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita and Visit Holland for assistance with this post. I was a guest of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.
The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the North Shore, so they can see that there is more to the island than just Waikiki. Locals call the North Shore “the country.”
When I crave local cuisine, I turn to Side Street Inn. The misoyaki chicken is tender and moist, the kim chee fried rice offers the perfect balance of salt and spice, and the fried pound cake with ice cream is dangerously delicious.
To escape work I hit up happy hour in Chinatown. Indigo, Bambu 2.0, thirtyninehotel and Bar 35 all have great drink specials and a hip, urban ambiance.
For complete quiet, I can hide away at The Kahala Resort. It’s only 10 minutes outside of Waikiki yet feels a world away. Afternoon tea or just a cocktail by the beach is the perfect place to unwind.
If you have to order one thing off the menu at Town, get the organic chicken. It’s brined 24 hours then pan roasted with pancetta, grapes and croutons, then tossed with tatsoi from Ma’o Farms.
Honolulu is my one stop shop for everything vintage! Check out Aloha De Nime for vintage aloha shirts and denim, Muumuu Heaven for sundresses made of out of recycled muumuu, or Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts for classically vintage aloha shirts.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to Rainbow Drive In for the Mix Plate. At only $7.25 you get BBQ beef, breaded mahimahi, boneless chicken, two scoops of rice, and a choice of macaroni salad or cole slaw. The plate is large enough to share between two people.
For a huge splurge, I go to Chef Mavro Restaurant. Chef Mavro, a James Beard Award winning chef, was one of the “founding fathers” of Hawaii Regional Cuisine. He is committed to working with local farmers to get the freshest ingredients possible. He’s still on top of his game, as the restaurant just received a Five-Diamond rating from AAA and was named top Gayot’s list of Top 40 restaurants in the U.S.
Things to See and Do in Honolulu include a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center
Photo ops on Oahu include the seven villages of Polynesia at Polynesian Cultural Center, Byodo-In Temple, Halona Blowhole, the white sand Lanikai Beach, or any beach as the sun sets.
The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Mt. Leahi (Diamond Head), Makapuu Lighthouse, Nuuanu Pali Lookout, or Mt. Tantalus.
The most random thing about Oahu is the Waikiki Spam Jam.
On Oahu, an active day outdoors involves swimming or stand-up paddle boarding at the beach, hiking or horseback riding along one of the island’s many trails, or power shopping at Ala Moana Center – the world’s largest outdoor mall.
My favorite walking route is around Ala Moana Beach Park.
Oahu’s best museum is the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
For a night of dancing, go to Pearl Ultralounge.
Liliha Bakery is the spot for late night dining.
To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
You can tell a lot about Oahu’s history by visiting Iolani Palace or the USS Arizona Memorial.
In the spring you should attend Lantern Floating Hawaii.
In the summer you should attend Prince Lot Hula Festival.
In the fall you should attend the Aloha Festivals.
In the winter you should go to Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
A hidden gem in Honolulu is Doris Duke’s 1937 estate, Shangri La.
For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Diamond Head Marketand Grill on Monsarrat Avenue, just outside of Waikiki. Their blueberry cream cheese scones are to die for. I also love to visit the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market on Saturdays for breakfast. Fried green tomatoes, North Shore Cattle cheeseburgers, Ohana Seafood’s salmon fried rice, and Neapolitan Pizza are among my favorites.
Just outside of Honolulu you can visit Kailua and enjoy gourmet sandwiches and daily deli selections at the Kalapawai Deli. Then you can hit Kailua Beach, and if you’re feeling adventurous, kayak to the Mokulua Islands. Rentals are available through Twogood Kayaks or Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks.
Experience the Dolphin Interactive Program at Sea Life Park Hawaii in Honolulu
The best way to see Honolulu is to rent a car, and plan day trips to each neighborhood — from Kailua to Chinatown.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss: Bishop Museum. The Science Adventure Center is especially popular with kids. If you are looking to swim with the dolphins, make a reservation at Sea Life Park Hawaii.
What are your favorite things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii?
Mahalo to Rebecca Pang, North America PR Manager for the Oahu Visitors Bureau for assistance with this post.